Church of Scientology set to open all-new $57m Australasian HQ at Chatswood West

On-site living quarters to house celebrity members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta 275 Scientologists will be ferried into the private centre in church buses every day Facility can hold up to 500 Scientologists after expensive refurbishment

The Daily Telegraph/June 14, 2016

By Jack Houghton

A $57 million Scientology recruitment fortress where “senior ministers” from all over the world will gather to train in secrecy is about to open its doors in Chatswood.

The site will open in September, becoming the Australasian Scientology headquarters where people from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan will be trained.

Students will walk past gold and white “monuments” and over the lavish “Bridge to Total Freedom” to enter the futuristic and clandestine church, which has been marred with allegations of abuse and fraud in recent years, all of which the church has denied.

The organisation paid $37 million buying the defunct ­National Acoustic Laboratory building site and two nearby homes, and spent another $20 million this year turning it into the biggest Scientology church in the country.

The Daily Telegraph understands 275 Scientologists will be ferried into the private centre in church buses every day and will launch a recruitment drive to attract North Sydney residents battling drug addiction and depression.

The facility has undergone a major and expensive refurbishment in the past 18 months and now can hold up to 500 Scientologists.

Junior church members will be allowed into the first building towards the entry on Greville St where they can “worship” and socialise alongside prospective recruits, but only the most devout will get clearance to cross the bridge.

There, behind closed doors, senior ministers will charge members thousands of dollars for “auditing sessions”, which are designed to suppress the side of the brain that is not mathematical and pragmatic.

Those bidding for an elevated status in the church hierarchy can pay more money to quantify the progress of their studies through E-meter readings, which allegedly display the strength of their spirituality.

On-site living quarters that can house celebrity members such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta have also been built.

More than a dozen nearby residents formally objected to the church.

Australia’s Church of Scientology president Vicki Dunstan said the criticisms that had been received had been dealt with.

“During the construction phase the church has worked with the neighbours on relevant matters and looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively as our facility moves into the operational phase,” she said.

Some residents feared protests would damage property values. Homeowner Kenneth Brown told Willoughby City Council the church would “disturb the quiet nature” of the neighbourhood.

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